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To Pacify(ier) or not to Pacify(ier)


Pacifiers have been a subject of great debate between parents, the medical community, and society in general for over a hundred years, probably since before the first patent came out in 1901.


Growing up many years ago in New Zealand pacifiers were definitely frowned upon, and so that semblance was imprinted on me and with the birth of my first child a note was placed in my son’s hospital crib “NO PACIFIER.” Of course, the hospital was much kinder to me than I was to my son, rigid as I was in wanting to be the perfect parent,

(it’s amazing how “knowledgeable” we are about being a perfect parent before we are even a parent, I laugh now), and in the gift basket I received on leaving the hospital was a pacifier. It took less than 24 hours for that dummy (NZ slang for pacifiers) to be shoved into my son’s loud and screaming mouth. And there it would stay until it was thrown out the window of our car three years later when the bargain was Toys ‘N Us or the pacifier.


I won’t say it was easy. Sometimes I would be up in the middle of the night searching in the dark for that God-send rubber thing; and swearing under my breath. Then I got wise and put three pacifiers in his crib. My genius didn’t last long. Suddenly he NEEDED all three pacifiers at all times.


Needless to say, despite the hardship of getting him to give up his pacifier (which really wasn’t so hard in the end), when I had my second child, no notes were placed in her crib at the hospital, and I happily went home, pacifier ready. I then spent the next few weeks frustratingly trying to get her to take the pacifier. But every time I put it in, she spat it out. I gave up. She didn’t need it and didn’t want it. Though I am not sure at what month she discovered her thumb and decided this was brilliant. The dental community will tell you thumb sucking is bad for the teeth. Well, having been a thumb sucker and having straight teeth, I still am not convinced on that but what I will tell you – don’t let the thumb sucking become finger sucking! Many thousands of dollars later, my daughter’s teeth still make an impression in the orthodontist’s portfolio!


So, to pacify(ier) or not to pacify(ier)? It still seems a big question. And one I encounter often on my newborn photoshoots. The medical community seems to flip flop on this issue though, at the moment, the main consensus is that it does seem to decrease the risk of SIDS.


I think most babies will let you know if it’s needed or not. Some babies do need more soothing. My son definitely needed more soothing than my first daughter. I sometimes wonder whether she is Greta Garbo incarnate, she was born with a “let me alone” attitude. Pacifiers, at the end of the day, are a tool, and parents need not consider them more than that.


What I do recommended is for the duration of a newborn shoot, it is a wise idea to have one. Many babies will spit them out and not take them, but for others, even if it’s only used for the few hours of the photoshoot it can help to keep a newborn calm and contented and ready for their first close-up.

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